It Just Happened

It’s funny how you meet so many people in life, experience so many different interactions; and these interactions help shape what you know about others, and yourself. You slowly learn what you do and don’t like, what you want in a partner, and what you don’t. You learn what qualities matter to you; and those qualities, more often than not, become more or less important with time.

I used to make excuses for people who were dismissive of my feelings or my wants and needs. I used to settle for people who weren’t loyal because they were funny, or who were self centered, but occasionally sweet, because I thought that was enough, and maybe what I wanted. I glazed over things that were unacceptable because it wasn’t quite as broken as the situations I grew up in and I rationalized behavior that warranted immediate excommunication. I settled for less, over and over and over again. I didn’t really know better. So I stayed in relationships I had no business being in just because the thought of going through another shit show of a break up, or having to start over again after attempting to build a life with someone, was exhausting. I was tired of it long before most people my age had even started to discover it. The cost of living a sped up life I guess…

I’ve thought I was in love before, and once before I actually was. But in retrospect, those people were never meant to last a lifetime, no matter how hard they tried to suck one out of me. They were meant to teach me lessons; oftentimes very painful, but necessary lessons. Those lessons included things like what I wouldn’t settle for, what I valued most, what made me build resentments, and how much resentment was too much to get past. I learned where the limits of my forgiveness lie, where my own defects in relationships come out, what makes me happy, and what makes me “hate the way your breathing sounds” miserable. I learned what it felt like when my soul knew it was not meant for the person I was lying next to. And finally, after too much bullshit, I learned how to walk away with my self respect and dignity intact. But more important than all of those things: I learned what Itruly wanted, and needed,all along.

I wanted someone to laugh with, someone who respected me even when they didn’t like my opinions or my actions, someone who truly listened to the things I said, instead of just hearing them. I needed someone who accepted me for the good, the bad, the damaged, and all the in between. I needed someone who could live with knowing my past, without seeing me as some woman to save or a broken bird to be fixed. I needed someone who could support me when I was weak, but could also be vulnerable enough to apologize when they mess up and ask for help when they need it. I wanted someone who didn’t just give up when the going got tough because that was never an option for me and I have a hard time understanding people like that. I wanted someone who felt like home, someone I didn’t have to make excuses for, someone whose actions I didn’t have to hide from my loved ones. Someone who stands up for what they believe in, even when I don’t agree with them. I wanted to be a part of someone’s life, not their entire life. I wanted a partner, a teammate, an “other half” who treated me as their equal. And I drug my way through the assholes to get him. But I have him…

He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. He makes mistakes, but he apologizes for them. I never saw him coming, but he’s exactly what I dreamt of. The timing wasn’t the best, the set up wasn’t great, but the reward has been beyond anything I believed existed anymore. It’s been my experience that when people, myself included, leave a relationship they always say “I’m never doing this again”. And then they go out, find someone who’s the exact opposite of the last one, and they put them on a pedestal that no one belongs on. They paint that person into a picture of what they want them to be, they call them perfect, ignore their flaws, and then act surprised when it all comes crashing down around them. I didn’t do that with him.

Something just happened. He popped up when I least expected it and I just watched. I sat back and let it unfold. I kept my hands out of the mix, I didn’t try to control or force anything, I didn’t try to accelerate the timeline or make him into something he wasn’t. I’m not one for doing that anyway, but I also didn’t make excuses for him. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to apologize to myself for him because when it was necessary, he handled his shit himself. He carried himself like a man, and so I treat him like one. I respect him, immensely. And when I told him what I needed or couldn’t live with, he respected that and me. And when the time came, I just loved him. It was that simple, I found home in him and I’ve loved him everyday since.

It hasn’t always been a picture perfect fairytale, but I’m pretty sure everything that seems that way is a lie anyway. Love is messy and sometimes, uncomfortable. It shines a light on all the places we’re still broken and damaged. It brings out the best, and the worst, in us. It makes me fucking crazy sometimes because I haven’t exactly lived a life that’s taught me how to have a healthy relationship. But there’s no one on this planet I’d rather give it a shot with. I am so excited to continue to learn how to do this the right way; and for once in my life, I’m with someone who wants the same things as me. And it’s such a beautiful thing. Being with the wrong person will always inevitably lead to suffering. But being with the right person? That changes everything. And I’m so grateful for it, I’m so grateful for him… It’s that simple.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Struggle

Some days I struggle.

I carry this sense of impending doom around in my pocket like loose change or leftover lint. I feel a little left of center, a little off balance. Maybe I’m crooked. Maybe I’m damaged. Maybe there’s too many things that I’ve left unspoken, and the weight’s got me bent… but still unbroken.

So now some days I breathe anxiety for oxygen and use anger for strength.
Cause I can only fight as hard as I hate.
And sometimes that fire lightens the weight…
But sometimes it burns me instead.

I never fear the shoe dropping, I fucking expect it and although the years have caused that to lessen, I’ve still learned well how to hold my breath in. I’m a little cautious or completely reckless, balance has never been what I’m best at.

I’ve carried this guilt my entire life, accepting blame for shit that’s not mine.
I was raised to feel responsible, for everything; and it didn’t go away when I got old enough to see. See how broken that thinking is, and how wrong my mom was in the things she did. I was born pure and molded into an apology. Never taught to stand up or fight what people blamed on me. I spent my first 13 years mostly saying “Sorry”.

But evolution is inevitable and eventually the change came. I got a new mom, learned what I didn’t need to say. I stopped accepting blame and slowly dropped the weight. But some things in life, never truly go away.

So some days I wake up, with a belly full of lead, from all of the times that I bit another bullet. And on any given day my spine made of steel can curve into a question mark because not everything is healed. But most of the time, I stand up for myself, I don’t accept blame and take care of myself. I don’t make choices out of guilt, I don’t back down from what I’ve built. I’m accountable for my actions, and nothing fucking else.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

In Pursuit of Perfection 

Just a little bit thinner”, she said to the flesh that dared to stretch tightly over her bones. Razor sharp angles chiseled from years of practiced self loathing and starvation…

Just one more shot”, thought the boy who stared into the abyss that is amber colored poison. Dying to be a man, dying to gain the liquid courage this foul drink offered, courage to talk to the pretty girl. Dying to have a story to tell his buddies Monday morning in the locker room…

You’ll never be good enough. What the fuck is wrong with you?” she thought to herself. Another B+ on another exam that she studied 10 straight Adderall induced hours for. Her father’s voice rings in the back of her head… or is it hers?

Just a little bit faster” thought the kids. Running from death, running from life, running from existence itself. Striving for perfection, pretending not to care, stifled by the dichotomy of it all. Wanting to succeed, be better, be faster, be smarter, be… perfect. 

We stand at the precipice of our own sanity and every time, we jump. We hurl ourselves into oblivion in search of, well, we don’t actually know. We reach for a standard that was made by fuck knows who for god knows what purpose. There’s an invisible bar that’s been set and we will kill ourselves in an attempt to reach it. “Be better, faster, stronger, smarter, braver”. Be everything. Everything they said to be. Everything they want us to be. Everything that someone else was made to be, just not us. We are infinite. And yet, we stuff ourselves into manmade boxes. Boxes that stifle our uniqueness and limit our existence. And for what? 

The pursuit of “perfection”. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Temporary 

Feelings can be a truly terrible thing. Only they are capable of making you think you’re suffocating when you’re not. That you can’t take one more step when you can. That things will never get better when in fact, they will. Our ability to feel is what makes us human; and it is what makes us volatile and unpredictable. They are why so many people stay in bad relationships out of fear, why people kill themselves, why so much damage has been caused by and to so many. They are the reason that everyone has a poison, whether it be drugs, sex, love, or any other thing that can be abused in an attempt to numb our existence just a little bit. 

They can make everything seem too loud, too big, too hard. Simply put, they’re extreme

But they are temporary. And they aren’t fact. A feeling is just your perception of any given person, situation, or circumstance; but the amount of power it holds over you depends on your state of mind for it’s survival. How you react to that is your choice. The ones who kill themselves break my heart the most. I’ve been in dark places before in my life, where I felt like suicide was the only answer. But I’m still here today. I’m here because someone told me “This too shall pass”, “Feelings aren’t facts”, and “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens”. At the time, I didn’t believe a single fucking word of it. I had experienced so much pain in my short life that it was all just a bit too much; but their words were just enough to make me wait a few years. 

And today I am truly blessed. I have amazing friends and family. I have a beautiful daughter who fills my world with light. I have my life. The feelings are still there, sometimes they are still extreme, and some days I still feel suffocated by the weight of them. But today I recognize their impermanence; and I try to give that more weight than I give the feelings themselves. I actively practice acceptance and I make the conscious decision on a daily basis to just do the next right thing for the next right reason, regardless of how I feel at the time. I owe almost all of the love and beauty in my life to that practice. And I never would’ve learned it had I given in, let the feelings take control, and chosen a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So, if you feel like shit today, that’s okay. Own it, accept it; and know that tomorrow is another day that you don’t have to let be weighed down by the problems of tonight. 

Life is short. And too many people leave us too early. So embrace your feelings, however temporary they may be, and be fucking grateful for the fact that you’re alive to experience them…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Harming to Heal

I’ll always remember the day my mom saw deep wounds, bright red and angry, scattered about my arms. She said, “That’s going to scar; you’re not going to want all those scars when you get older.” She sent me to the bathroom to wash them and treat them with Neosporin. I distinctly remember washing them and then leaving a sheen of water on them so that if she checked, she would think I had used the ointment. Not my best plan, I admit; but she didn’t check to see that I’d done as instructed, so it was wasted effort anyway. The damage was already done after all. I had tried to tell her I wouldn’t mind the scars but she didn’t think I knew what I was talking about. What 13-year-old does, really?

To me though, those deep cuts were just one battle won in the war that was waging inside me; invisible to the untrained eye. I was poisoned, tainted, damaged; and it was killing me. And every time I dragged that blade across my skin it was in an effort to purge that poison from my body, my mind. It was my attempt at living, contrary to popular belief. It was the only thing that proved to me that I was in fact, still alive. I remember feeling so numb, so beaten down my life, that the sting of that knife felt like coming home, like breathing for the first time after drowning for years. Those marks on my flesh were proof.

Proof that I had survived. Proof that my body was mine to do with as I pleased. Proof that I was in control. Proof that I could take any pain and make it tangible, manageable, visible, even if only to myself. The scars that formed as a result of those wounds were validating. They were the battle scars to match the many wars that had been waged on my body, my mind, my soul, and my sanity. I already had a few scars that were the result of things done to me; but the deepest wounds, those were invisible. And they were poison. I remember choking on the acid of them, suffocated by their weight, screaming for relief without being heard. I just needed to do something.

And so I took that blade and ran it across my flesh; and as the sting spread through me like fire it was as if all the poison was being purged from my body. It was like the fist wrapped around my throat had finally relaxed and I could fucking breathe for once.. And every time life became too much, or the screaming in my head grew too loud, I would return to that blade and find peace again. It was my savior, my reminder that no one had control over me anymore. Proof that I could withstand anything.

I never did and never will mind my scars. I wasn’t trying to get attention; I always hid the cuts. And I wasn’t trying to kill myself; I was trying to heal. I was trying to escape. I was purging that poison from my body and mind. Erasing the stains that so many had left on me with their abuse and their words and their lies. I needed something that was just mine after a lifetime of everything being taken from me. And it worked. 13 years later and I still wear the scars. I have a beautiful life today, full of happiness, peace, and so many blessings. But I’ll never forget the fire that forged me, the poison that almost killed me, or the bad habit that set me free. These scars are the price I paid to cleanse myself, to start over, to begin to feel again. They were my way of surviving, and I can live with that…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Note from Author: This post was not written in an attempt to romanticize or suggest anyone try self harming. It is nothing more than my account of my experience with it.  It is never good for a person to become dependent on self-destructive behaviors to heal, to regain control, or for any other reason. I could have achieved the same healing if I had used positive coping mechanisms or sought professional help. If you need help, if you feel like you’re drowning, or if harming yourself sounds like a good idea, then please get help!!

RESOURCES FOR HELP

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Self Harming Hotline: 1-800-DONT-CUT
  • Self Injury Foundation’s 24-hour hotline: 1-800-334-HELP
  • Real Help for Teens Hotline: 1-877-332-7333
  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE
  • https://www.thehopeline.com – website with different resources for those struggling
  • http://www.selfinjury.com – website with referrals for therapists & tips on how to stop cutting

via Daily Prompt: Heal

Settling for Ordinary

I’ve been thinking about pain a lot lately. Not the physical kind that comes with an injury; but the emotional kind that stems from trauma, break ups, disappointments. The mental kind that can be a part of hard decisions that you don’t want to make. There are so many painful things in life; it’s a shame really. But I think what makes it worse is we try to hide from it. We force ourselves into this place of denial; turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the pain that is necessary to living a real life. We hide from the hard choices we know we should make. We hide from the heartache that we know could lead to true freedom. If only we could unburden ourselves of the lives we shouldn’t be living in the first place. So many people settle for the “easy” choice, the mediocre life, one with low risk …and low reward. We fear and denial ourselves into what’s “okay”, what’s “acceptable”, what’s “ordinary”. 

The problem is, when you live your life in denial, refusing to acknowledge that you’re settling for less because it’s safer than taking a chance, you set yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness. Maybe you’ll be numb, and it’ll be okay. But that’s it. It’s just “okay”. If you never take a chance, risk everything, removing the cloth from your eyes, then you will never experience that soul lightening, life altering happiness. You’ll never meet your soulmate, realize your dreams, experience something truly magnificent. Maybe just okay is enough for some people; but my mama, she taught me better…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2016